MONDAY 24 MARCH
A very sharp frost overnight with temperatures falling to minus 3. A pleasant day followed, although the NW wind was fairly biting.
I spent the morning in the CHESS VALLEY, where around CHENIES BOTTOM, the following bird species were noted -:
Mallard (3 - 2 drakes), Moorhen (pair), Atlantic Canada Geese (2 pairs), Coot (pair), LITTLE OWL (usual bird), Woodpigeon (6), Jackdaw (6, paired up and on the chimneys of the cottages along the Latimer Road), Common Blackbird, Robin, Wren (2), Blue Tit, Goldfinch, Greenfinch (singing male), Common Magpie (4) and Dunnock (singing male).
Little Owl peeking out from centre of Pollarded Willow
Male Stock Dove occupying nestbox
At CHURCH COVERT, the Chess was still flooding over the roots of the Ancient trees, with Jay, Wren (3 singing males), Robin (2), COMMON CHIFFCHAFF (singing male), Stock Dove (occupying the nestbox), Coot (2 pairs), Great Tit, Woodpigeon (pair), Jackdaw (pair), Red Kite, Moorhen (pair), Mallard (pair), Common Buzzard (pair) and Goldcrest (singing male) all noted.
In the MILL FARM MEADOWS AREA, another 'singing' Stock Dove, 8 Woodpigeon, singing male Dunnock, 8 Jackdaws and a female Common Kestrel (in the nest tree), with FROGMORE MEADOW producing 2 singing male COMMON CHIFFCHAFFS, Long-tailed Tit pair, Mallard, Wren and Blue Tit. The woodland belt at LIMESHILL WOOD held Green Woodpecker and Robin.
VALLEY FARM PADDOCKS failed to produce any migrant chats but did yield another COMMON CHIFFCHAFF, Common Buzzard, 2 Pied Wagtails, 2 Carrion Crows, 8 Jackdaw and an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull, while the CRESTYL CRESSBEDS added Moorhen, Pied Wagtail, Goldfinch and Robin.
Little to speak of in MOUNT WOOD other than a Sparrowhawk, Common Magpie, 2 Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit, while CHENIES around HOLLOWAY LANE added 6 House Sparrows (a pair by Woodville Farm and 4 in gardens just in from the main road), Skylark, 3 Pied Wagtails, 2 Common Magpie, 36 Jackdaw, Goldfinch and Robin. The village itself held Greenfinch, Wren, Dunnock and Chaffinch, with the 5th singing COMMON CHIFFCHAFF of the morning in the trees opposite Chenies Place.
Holloway Lane in Chenies - home for at least 6 House Sparrows
A single sub-adult Sinensis Cormorant was on BOIS MILL POND, with the Mute Swans now occupying a nest on CHESHAM WATERSIDE. Three more Mute Swans were on BOIS MILL MEADOW and the male still on LOWNDES PARK LAKE.
Still trying to determine whether or not a Snowy Owl had been sighted on the Mucking Marshes in Essex, I headed down that way regardless but diverted to KENT on hearing that Barry Wright had connected with the HOOPOE, first seen in November 2013. I arrived about 1530 hours and after a lengthy search, I eventually located the bird on OASTPARK GOLF COURSE at SNODLAND. The bird was showing well but distantly and because of the fading light, I fired off a number of record shots before the bird flew off, presumably to roost (see below).
Record shots of Snodland's Hoopoe this evening, prior to it flying to roost
The area also produced 2 Greylag Geese, 2 Canada Geese, 6 Woodpigeon, Stock Dove, Great Tit, Blue Tit, 6 Common Starling, Robin, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, 5 Common Blackbird, 6 Linnet, Dunnock, 6 Common Magpie, 4 Carrion Crow, Greenfinch and 6 Chaffinch, as well as 2 Red Foxes and 18 Rabbits.